Chicago Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips said Tuesday that he fired General Manager Jerry Angelo because he wanted to close the talent gap in his division.
"There's a lot of factors involved," he said during an evening press conference. "Ultimately, we look at our division and say, 'We need to close that talent gap,' and that's what we need to do, and I think the way to do that, right now, is a fresh start and a new look at our team."
The NFC North includes both the Green Bay Packers, who are stocked with offensive and defensive talent, and the Detroit Lions, who may be even more laden with skills players.
Phillips said he and CEO George McCaskey made the decision to let Angelo go Monday and that the search for his replacement has already begun.
"I’m going to miss him, but at the same time we need more," Phillips said.
Despite their bold moves, the team has already thrown up a roadblock in the search for Angelo's successor.
Whomever ultimately replaces Angelo must keep Lovie Smith as the head coach through 2012.
Phillips likes Smith and does not hold long-time head coach responsible for 2011's shortcomings.
"Ultimately, we felt that Lovie is the right head coach for this team. We like his staff that's in place," he said. "There's a lot of candidates out there that would be proud to work with a coach like Lovie Smith, and when they take a look at the staff he has and some of the success we've had and some of the players we have in place, I don't think it's going to be an issue at all."
Angelo's departure was announced just hours before Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz resigned from the team. Phillips cited "philosophical differences."
Martz turned down a contract extension earlier in the year. His contract, valued at $1 million per year, expired at the end of the season.
Angelo was hired in 2001 and led the team to four division titles, two NFC Championship appearances and one Super Bowl loss during his 11 years.